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Article of the month for January, 2004
The Myth of Retirement; One day I'll finally do what I want!



By Craig Nathanson


    Are you waiting for Lifeís permission to do what you love?
    Work starts out for most of us as something we didnít want to do. We do it to make an income, because we are supposed to or because we donít know what else to do.

    Soon many of us find out that each day is pretty much similar to the next. We have little control over what we do and at times feel like robots. As we get a little older, we start to wonder is this all there is. We notice during our long commutes in many cases, how other people look similar. No one is smiling, everyone seems in a rush and everyone seems permanently attached to their cellphones, pagers, laptops and their palm pilots.

    Monday is the worst, Tuesday seems a little better. Wednesday is the longest day because Thursday and Friday still remain. Thursday is not too hot either because it feels like all the work has to get done today.
    Friday comes with mixed feelings. Everyone relaxes as if to say, ĎíI donít have to work that hard today, do I? After all, Itís Friday!

    It almost feels like a crime to have to work on Fridays. After all many of us just spent 4 whole days doing things we donít like, so isnít that enough?

    I didnít mention the evenings. There was the usual share of late meetings, overtime and arriving home late with just enough time to eat and crash on the sofa. Anyone else in our lives who demanded attention just had to wait. An important talk with a loved one, the garbage and the game of candy land seemed so hard to focus on.

    Well, back to Friday. Talk filled the office about what everyone had planned the coming weekend. Sometimes, when you had nothing planned, it felt like something was missing.

    After all, everyone else was going away for the weekend.

    Not you. You had laundry, cleaning, errands, kidís activities, bills and most of all sleep!

    This was the weekend you committed to yourself you would finally start to exercise.

    When the alarm sounded at 6am Saturday, the most exercise you felt like doing was to reach over and turn the alarm off.

    Before you knew it, Sunday night was here. Great, time to start worrying about work again!! I hate Monday mornings you think to yourself. You start fantasizing that suddenly you feel sick and what it might be like if you called in sick Monday and instead spent the day on the couch with the TV guide in one hand and a drink in the other hand.

    Then you suddenly wake up from your dream and realize again, it is Monday morning.
    You rush around the house tripping over the shoe left in the middle of the room and wonder again why you didnít take the time Sunday night to figure out what you would wear given you canít find socks that match or clean underwear.

    You jump in your car and as you drive to work and you ponder how it would feel if you suddenly got a flat tire and had no choice but to return home.

    You start to think about all the meetings and work you must do today as you reach the company parking lot. You feel like you have already worked for the day.

    You walk in the office and everyone you see asks you how your weekend went.

    This whole ritual takes 30 minutes and by the time you have settled down with a cup of coffee, the boss calls. He wants to see you in his office right away. Something about the missing report that was due last week. Oh no, you think to yourself, that was something I told myself I needed to get up Monday morning early to finish.

    What how could I, you ponder. I was too busy trying to find socks and underwear.

    You reach your bosses office and suddenly wish you had the report minus the underwear and socks!

    I have some better newsÖAt Mid-life your vocational life doesnít have to be this way for forever.

    While most of us start off this way, you can take control of your vocational life.

    You can strive to match your abilities and interests so that what you do each and every day fills you with energy, passion and a sense that what you are doing makes a difference to you and those around you.
    Work doesnít have to be a prison sentence. It can be transformed into a life-long activity which fills you with joy, purpose and love. Thatís right the L word.
    Yes, it is possible to actually love what you do.
    Each day, you awake with a bounce in your step, a smile on your face as you approach your day. Are you working hard, sure but suddenly it doesnít feel that way.

    You feel like you are on a mission to do more of what you love each and every day. All of sudden Monday becomes your best day of the week and Friday, well, Friday reminds you that youíll have to wait until Monday to resume.

    But you canít wait to resume and over the weekend, you find yourself excited as you sneak thoughts of Monday and what you get to do. During the week, you feel like laughing out loud and shouting, this is what Ďíwork is supposed to feel likeíí But then again, you have lost the concept of work. You feel like this is a vocation that can last a lifetime. Why retire, you ask yourself?

    You think to yourself, maybe one day, when I am very old, I will slow down a bit but not too much. After all, this is what I love to do so why stop? Suddenly all this focus on retirement seems sort of silly. After all, retire from what? Doing what I love each and every day?

    Maybe thatís what retirement ought to be. Going back to what you donít want if by then you havenít found what you do want. That would be the penalty. Sadly, that is retirement for most of us.

    All of a sudden, you remember long ago you read a book about the concept of vocational passion. At the time, while it sounded interesting, you just couldnít relate. After all, you had bills to pay and you didnít have the time or the opportunity to think about this much less do what you actually wanted. In your mind back then, doing what you enjoyed and making money was an unlikely pair.

    Now, you smiled as you thought about this.

    Back then, all those Pís you read about in the book seemed to be just one more thing to either memorize or ignore forever. Purpose, prize, perspective, possibilities, place, position, passion, perfect vocational day, present and putting it all together seemed like a nice model for someone elseÖ.

    But now at mid-life, you realize that if you can give yourself permission, you can change. With new permission to follow your dreams, your energy can return. Suddenly, you begin to notice that the bounce in your step has picked up and though you are still working to close the gaps between what you want and where your are, this interim doesnít seem all that difficult any more.


    Now as you approached the bossís office without the missing report, you smiled as you turned the doorknob and thought to yourself; at least I have MY socks and MY underwear.

    Iíll be okÖÖNow that I have given myself permission to do more of what I want

    Craig Nathanson© Copyright 2004


    The Vocational Coach (tm)
    http://www.thevocationalcoach.com
    ''The world works a little better when we do what we love. Craig Nathanson helps those at mid-life carrry this out''
    Workshops, Publications, Retreats and Private Coaching
    Phone 925-736-3952
    Fax 925-736-5758
    craig@thevocationalcoach.com



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